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Old 10-05-2014, 07:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Ski vs Snowboard Dilemma....

Ok... so controversial thread title aside, I am in a REAL dilemma with my 4 yr old.

He's already snowboarded a bit a couple times and has had group ski lessons for todlers. This year it's definitely time to get him going and I already got him a pass for Cypress mtn. Problem is:

There's no group snowboard lessons for 4 year olds!!
I'm sure there's private lessons, but that will be expensive... and my biggest concern is the instructors may just say "yeah, sure we'll teach him to snowboard" (dudes gotta eat y'know) when I ask for private lessons for him.

On the other hand, he's already taken group 2 ski lessons and his next lesson will have him good to go on green runs, according to the instructors. I've seen him in his lessons and indeed, after a lesson or so he will be good for greens. He's under much more control on skis than on a snowboard.

Also, he's already done the bunny hill (at Seymour) a few times on a snowboard. Yeah, only did it because he wanted to ride the magic carpet back up... but falling-leafed all the way down with no real problems.

I've asked him which he prefers, and he prefers snowboarding. Although it's certainly conditioned, but still if he says ski, then i'd get him skiing.

So, should I go with ski lessons to get him started? (because I could get him lots of group ski lessons than private snowboard lessons, and I would rather get him proper instructors than self-teach) then transfer him to snowboard if he wants when he's ready/mature enough?

Anyone has experience teaching a 4 yr/o (almost 5) to snowboard?
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1EA View Post
Ok... so controversial thread title aside, I am in a REAL dilemma with my 4 yr old.

He's already snowboarded a bit a couple times and has had group ski lessons for todlers. This year it's definitely time to get him going and I already got him a pass for Cypress mtn. Problem is:

There's no group snowboard lessons for 4 year olds!!
I'm sure there's private lessons, but that will be expensive... and my biggest concern is the instructors may just say "yeah, sure we'll teach him to snowboard" (dudes gotta eat y'know) when I ask for private lessons for him.

On the other hand, he's already taken group 2 ski lessons and his next lesson will have him good to go on green runs, according to the instructors. I've seen him in his lessons and indeed, after a lesson or so he will be good for greens. He's under much more control on skis than on a snowboard.

Also, he's already done the bunny hill (at Seymour) a few times on a snowboard. Yeah, only did it because he wanted to ride the magic carpet back up... but falling-leafed all the way down with no real problems.

I've asked him which he prefers, and he prefers snowboarding. Although it's certainly conditioned, but still if he says ski, then i'd get him skiing.

So, should I go with ski lessons to get him started? (because I could get him lots of group ski lessons than private snowboard lessons, and I would rather get him proper instructors than self-teach) then transfer him to snowboard if he wants when he's ready/mature enough?

Anyone has experience teaching a 4 yr/o (almost 5) to snowboard?
No, but I'll be giving it a go with my 4 yo daughter this winter as well... She was on skis all last winter (at 3).

Edit: so, i'm just subscribing for advice as well...
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by F1EA View Post
Ok... so controversial thread title aside, I am in a REAL dilemma with my 4 yr old.

He's already snowboarded a bit a couple times and has had group ski lessons for todlers. This year it's definitely time to get him going and I already got him a pass for Cypress mtn. Problem is:

There's no group snowboard lessons for 4 year olds!!
I'm sure there's private lessons, but that will be expensive... and my biggest concern is the instructors may just say "yeah, sure we'll teach him to snowboard" (dudes gotta eat y'know) when I ask for private lessons for him.

On the other hand, he's already taken group 2 ski lessons and his next lesson will have him good to go on green runs, according to the instructors. I've seen him in his lessons and indeed, after a lesson or so he will be good for greens. He's under much more control on skis than on a snowboard.

Also, he's already done the bunny hill (at Seymour) a few times on a snowboard. Yeah, only did it because he wanted to ride the magic carpet back up... but falling-leafed all the way down with no real problems.

I've asked him which he prefers, and he prefers snowboarding. Although it's certainly conditioned, but still if he says ski, then i'd get him skiing.

So, should I go with ski lessons to get him started? (because I could get him lots of group ski lessons than private snowboard lessons, and I would rather get him proper instructors than self-teach) then transfer him to snowboard if he wants when he's ready/mature enough?

Anyone has experience teaching a 4 yr/o (almost 5) to snowboard?
so I have not done this with a 4yo but a 7 yo and 9 yo
My 9 YO was a natural Now going on 11, and is now at advanced level, never needed more than one lesson
My 7 YO she started a year later than my 9 YO and I put her in a class for a day, she was barely able to leaf after class. 2nd time out, she was doing greens (fall a lot, but handling it). 2 more times out she was doing blues, still leafing and switch leafing, but she enjoyed herself alot. let the kid have a go at some greens keeping close Eye, and your calves will probably burn while waiting for him, but at that age they learn really fast, way faster than we do.
and most likely by 6, he is going to be running rings around you.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by F1EA View Post
..I'm sure there's private lessons, but that will be expensive... and my biggest concern is the instructors may just say "yeah, sure we'll teach him to snowboard" (dudes gotta eat y'know) when I ask for private lessons for him.
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.let the kid have a go at some greens keeping close Eye, and your calves will probably burn while waiting for him, but at that age they learn really fast, way faster than we do.
and most likely by 6, he is going to be running rings around you.
1st! No Kids so keep that in mind as I go off here! You're comment about private snowboard lessons? Was the plan to drop him at the lesson and come back for him later? Do you have some reason for doubting that the instructors would provide proper instruction during the private lessons?

2nd. Since it would seem that you both prefer that he be snowboarding, I would maybe spring for a private lesson or two and if I had any doubt about the instructor(s)? I would hang around and make sure he was getting what I was paying for.

I would recommend that strategy because as LarryT pointed out,.. at that age they can pick things up fast. So you might only need 2-3 lessons to get you kid going on the basics from which you can help them build on! A few lessons I wouldn't imagine would be all that expensive.

Is another overlying issue one of, If you don't get signed up for the group ski lessons early? You don't get in them at all? I could see why that could have you concerned about your options.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I figure if you want them off your hands for a little while and skiing is the only option, it's all good because in the end they'll want to copy Daddy and learn to snowboard.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes! Tried to teach my grandson to snowboard at 5. After two lessons, he switched to skis. His mother, dad, and me snowboard. If he never snowboards that's great. He'll get no inheritance from me.
Wish now I started him on skies.... and said when your old enough to take lessons you can try snowboarding.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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do treats work on kids?
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks guys. Some really valuable stuff.

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Originally Posted by Manicmouse View Post
I figure if you want them off your hands for a little while and skiing is the only option, it's all good because in the end they'll want to copy Daddy and learn to snowboard.
Honestly, i want him to be able to at least ride around with me and my wife a bit, and obviously to learn and enjoy himself. He loves it.

If it's on skis or board i don't really mind. But i think on skis it would be easier and safer. Safer is the key word. Plus with more lessons he'll learn better technique.

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Originally Posted by chomps1211 View Post
2nd. Since it would seem that you both prefer that he be snowboarding, I would maybe spring for a private lesson or two and if I had any doubt about the instructor(s)? I would hang around and make sure he was getting what I was paying for.
Great idea!
I hadnt thought about it this way... mostly cause the group lessons are drop-in and they actually ask you to leave (you can watch from a distance). But private are totally doable together and yeah 2-3 lessons would help a lot.

Group lessons are easy to book and schedule (specially during the season's peak). Plus he can take them with more kids his age, and in the end it is more fun for them... full on private may be too serious for what they are looking for...

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Originally Posted by SnowDogWax View Post
Yes! Tried to teach my grandson to snowboard at 5. After two lessons, he switched to skis. His mother, dad, and me snowboard. If he never snowboards that's great. He'll get no inheritance from me.
Wish now I started him on skies.... and said when your old enough to take lessons you can try snowboarding.
That's what i'm thinking... including the inheritance

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do treats work on kids?
Of course. The fine art of blackmailing...

Last edited by F1EA; 10-05-2014 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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so I have not done this with a 4yo but a 7 yo and 9 yo
My 9 YO was a natural Now going on 11, and is now at advanced level, never needed more than one lesson
My 7 YO she started a year later than my 9 YO and I put her in a class for a day, she was barely able to leaf after class. 2nd time out, she was doing greens (fall a lot, but handling it). 2 more times out she was doing blues, still leafing and switch leafing, but she enjoyed herself alot. let the kid have a go at some greens keeping close Eye, and your calves will probably burn while waiting for him, but at that age they learn really fast, way faster than we do.
and most likely by 6, he is going to be running rings around you.
Yes, they learn super fast. My guy did the bunny hill on his first day snowboarding... at 3 y/o.

The hardest thing is discipline. I know for a fact, he is more disciplined aroud an instructor..... so he will do as said and be more careful.... with daddy, he wants to get more gnarly.

At 7-9 is a bit easier because they are more mature/disciplined and much more coordinated.

So yeah... Maybe the skiing makes sense for such a young age.
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This debate has been on my mind for the past couple years, with two sons, currently 8 and 5.5. So I’ll spend some time here writing (a book) about me, my kids, our experiences, what worked for us, and what I’m doing differently with my younger son. I think it’s hard to give general advice on this topic, and much depends on the individual parents and kids. Also, my experience is with exactly 2 kids (mine), so take that into account. (And yes, I have a tendency to overthink things.)

Summary of my kids’ experience on the snow. (I keep a spreadsheet of all this stuff for budgeting purposes, so it was easy to look up.)

Older son (OS):
At 4-1/2 — skis, 17 days on snow, 9 days in full-day group lessons , 1 private lesson
At 5-1/2 — skis, 9 days on snow, 2 private lessons
At 6-1/2 — board, 12 days on snow, 3 days in full-day group lessons, 4 private lessons
At 7-1/2 — board, 16 days on snow, no lessons

Younger son (YS):
At 4 (turning 5 that January, so essentially 5) — skis, 9 days on snow, 2 private lessons

Both will be on boards this year.

So, me. I’m 44 and this will be my 12th year snowboarding. I consider myself a solid intermediate. I live in Michigan, but have spent a good bit of time riding in Vermont and New York (plus a couple trips west).

Years ago I read just about everything I could find on the debate and discussed it at length on another forum. I was really sold on the idea of starting very young kids on skis instead of board, despite being pretty much exclusively a rider myself. (I have only been on alpine skis a dozen or so times, but I am a decent cross-country skier.)

(1) It was important to me for my kid to have fun and like being on snow. I know there’s a vocal contingent that says the kid will have the most fun if they’re on the equipment they want to be on, so that should be the deciding factor. Frankly, my OS at 4-1/2 had no clue about skiing vs. snowboarding, only that daddy rides and mommy and grandpa ski. So I made my decision based on which equipment I thought the kid would have the most success on right off the bat, and skis won out in that regard. (I’ll admit a bias on my part in that I sometimes equate “fun” with “actually doing something right.”) (And also, admittedly a bit selfishly, that I didn't want to spend the rest of my existence on the bunny slope.)

(2) OS’s first year I knew in advance I would be going to Vermont for two one-week vacations. So part of it was taking OS along for daddy-son vacations, but, frankly, also parking him in all-day lessons so I could go ride. At that time, the resort I go to (Sugarbush) didn’t have all-day group lessons for kids that age, so that was a factor too. (They’ve since changed and do offer group all-days for 4-6 year-olds on snowboard.)

(3) I may come off like an asshole for this (if I didn’t already for fessing up about parking my kid), but here goes. I can’t stand to see people incompetently flail around at some activity, or at least not have some basic level of competence. I knew I would not have the patience to see a (my?) 4-year-old flail around on the board. You know the videos of super-young kids on boards you’ll sometimes see. Um, your kid might be having the greatest time of their life, but, sorry, no, they’re not actually riding if they can’t stop, turn, or get up on their own. I definitely have Asshole Technique Dad tendencies, and have been accused of “over coaching” my kids while on the snow. But I have mellowed considerably on that front in these past couple years, and my YS does stand to benefit from that.

Anyhow, so I started OS on skis at 4-1/2 and did go a bit overboard with the ski lessons. (See above about parking him.) I did talk a lot with his teachers and picked up a lot of pointers on how to coach a kid on skis (when my own ski skills are pretty lacking). None of us are particularly athletic. But OS has good balance and made great progress in those two years on skis. His switch to board was very interesting. He struggled at first, despite all the lessons, then on about day 6 he had a breakthrough, and it’s been near constant improvement since. (When I learned to ride, I struggled for 3 days and day 4 was my breakthrough day.) By the end of his first season, he was getting decent. By the end of his second, wow, I really had some proud papa moments. He’s comfortable in easy moguls and glades. He’s been given props twice now by strangers on the lift.

In retrospect, I think one year on skis would’ve been enough for him. That is the one thing I would’ve done differently in all of this, and it’s what I will do differently with YS. OS’s second year on skis was great that he could go so many places with me and ski with such confidence. And I’ll admit it was tough for me his first year on the board to see him struggle for those first days. But I think he still would’ve had a similar breakthrough if I had started him a year earlier. (Maybe it would’ve been later — on day 10 or so instead of 6.)

Now, with this in mind, I’m switching my YS to board this year after one year on skis. True, YS has far fewer days under his belt and far fewer ski lessons than OS had had before switching, but I was stunned with how easily YS took to skiing his first year. YS has a challenging, explosive personality and gets frustrated easily. That was one of the reasons we waited until he was almost 5 to put him on snow. But his progression and confidence on skis just shocked the hell out of me. To me, it seems like keeping him on skis another year would just be a waste.

I will definitely front-load him with lessons, like I did with OS. What I’ll have to be sensitive to is how long it may take for him to have a breakthrough.

(Aside: if you’re wondering why I didn’t just switch OS from skis to board in the middle of his second season, it was mainly due to what equipment I had. Also, I had told both kids that in general I don’t care if they ski or ride, but they have to decide one or the other before the season starts.) (But I'm also a complete hypocrite in that regard, in that I really hope they stick with snowboarding.)

So, executive summary. I personally think there’s value in starting very young kids off on skis. I’ll have more to say at the end of this season about switching kids over to boarding.

I’m happy to answer anything about my experience.
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